Danish Paintings: From the Golden Age to the Modern Breakthrough

Tonight I attended an opening reception at the Scandanavia House for Danish Paintings: From the Golden Age to the Modern Breakthrough.

Vilhelm Hammershoi - DETAIL - Courtyard Interior at Strandgade

Vilhelm Hammershoi – DETAIL – Courtyard Interior at Strandgade

Scandanavia House – which is part of The Nordic Center in America – is located in a swanky mid-town neighborhood on Park Avenue in NYC. I’m bringing this up because while this opening was certainly about Danish paintings, it was at least as much a New York City-centric event than anything else. Yep, it’s good to be home. When I filed into the auditorium in the basement of Scandanavia House, I felt like I’d been put into a time machine from earlier in my life when I used to work in this neighborhood. All around me were men in suits and women with serious jewelry. These men and women obviously had a lot of money; they were attending this event to help pay homage to the personal art collection of former Danish Ambassador (from 1981-83) of John L. Loeb, Jr.

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Ambassador Loeb, who seems to be in his … 70’s? … has amassed the largest collection of Danish paintings outside of Denmark, and is an ardent supporter of the arts, including the two co-curators of this exhibition, the five additional staff assistants that helped put the show together and the printing of a “handsome catalogue,” I was informed by one of the curators during his lecture. In addition to the opening event tonight, there will be ongoing events, like docent tours, etc. from now through the end of January 2014 when the exhibition closes.

PS Kroyer - Self Portrait - Sitting by his easel at Skagen Beach

PS Kroyer – Self Portrait – Sitting by his easel at Skagen Beach

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PS Kroyer - Portrait of the Artists Wife Marie

PS Kroyer – Portrait of the Artists Wife Marie

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In the lecture, the curators presented the concept behind the show, which is staged in three parts, one for each display gallery: The Academy; The Land; and The Modern Breakthrough. The Modern Breakthrough represents when Danish painters thought about:

the psychology of the individual, the role of the environment on identity and the ways in which the act of painting itself could be used as a medium through which emotions could be expressed and society renewed…

The opening image, my detail of the figure hanging out the window looking into a courtyard by Hammershoi, is an example of a piece within the Modern Breakthrough.

Hammershoi Courtyard Interior - full painting

Hammershoi Courtyard Interior – full painting

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Here are some additional images from The Academy gallery…with some information from the curators.

Jens Juel - Seated Chinese Man (Section: The Academy)

Jens Juel – Seated Chinese Man (Section: The Academy)

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Joel Ballin - 1882 - Study of a Model - Young Girl Undressing

Joel Ballin – 1882 – Study of a Model – Young Girl Undressing

During the lecture, we were told that the Danish Art Academy was one of the first (if not the first?) to have women models come and pose nude, rather than just male models.

The curator’s description in the gallery reads:

This work, painted in CW Eckersberg’s life class at the Academy records some of the professor’s most important pedagogical innovations. Traditionally, studies of the human nude had been conducted exclusively with male models, and only in the artificial light of candles or lamps. The point was to not represent life but to evoke an imagined realm of ideal beauty. Eckersberg … brought female models into the studio and instructed his students to paint them in the light of day and in realistic domestic settings.

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Christen Dalsgaard - DETAIL - Young Girl Writing

Christen Dalsgaard – DETAIL – Young Girl Writing

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So if you find yourself on Park Avenue near 38th Street between now and next January, you may want to stop by and see these Danish paintings from the private collection of the former Danish Ambassador. While you’re at it, pick up a handsome catalogue documenting the Ambassador’s collection by expert curators and enjoy the show….

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